Libraries in the UK holding Polish collections

We cannot list all the libraries in the UK holding Polish resources. So before checking one of the larger libraries on this page, always search the catalogues of your University library first, and those which are in your neigbourhood. University libraries tend to have different specialisms depending on the research interests of the lecturers and researchers associated with the institution, so collections may vary considerably. Be creative when doing your research and use COPAC to locate your materials.

The British Library
The British Library is one of the world's most important libraries. It holds over 150 million items. You can search the catalogues and order copies of some documents online. You will also find many electronic resources. Access is free but you need to get a reader's pass. Photocopying, microfilming, photographic and digital services are available but be warned: charges are very high. If you can copy the materials elsewhere, then do so. See the special webpages dedicated to the Polish Collections of the British Library. The collections include first editions of the classics of Polish Romanticism and a large number of books and documents on Solidarity and the anti-communist underground.

Bodleian Library at Oxford
This is the main research library of Oxford University, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library, having a stock of 6 million volumes. Admission is free to members of Oxford University, and to other bona fide scholars on production of a suitable letter of recommendation and proof of identity. Graduate students affiliated to universities and colleges funded by the higher education funding councils of the UK or the Republic of Ireland are exempt from payment. Specific information on its Polish collections is available here.

Cambridge University Library
This library has more than 5 million books and more than 1.5 million serial volumes. For vacation access only your student ID is required, although during term time and for the section Manuscripts & Rare Books you have to produce a letter from your supervisor. Students from foreign universities are subject to an administration charge of £10 for six months. The library holds over 20,000 items in its Polish collections.

The Taylor Institution Library (Oxford)
The Taylor Institution Library is devoted to modern languages and has a total stock of over 500,000 volumes - it is the largest specialist library in its field in the UK. Its collection concentrates on the literary and philological aspects of continental European culture, but also contains much background materials in fields such as history and philosophy.

School of Slavonic and East European Studies Library at UCL
This is one of the the largest specialist libraries on Central and Eastern Europe in the UK. Its Polish collections contain over 25,000 books and pamphlets, while the Library also holds significant collections of Polish and Poland-related journals.

University of London Library: Senate House
The University of London Library is one of the major academic libraries of the United Kingdom. Access is free for all postgraduates (although you have to show proof of identity and get a card). However, lending rights are only given automatically to University of London students and staff. Anyone else has to pay a fee (there are various different categories). Photocopying (also onto CDs) is available at a reasonable rate.

University of Glasgow Library
This holds large collections of books, journals and periodicals on the Central and Eastern European Region in fields including the arts, literature, history, and social and economic studies. The University's Language Library also has a significant collection of Polish films.

National Library of Scotland
The NLS holds some Slavonic collections, focusing on the humanities. However, it stopped regular purchases of Polish materials in 1995. It does, though, maintain a strong reference section of more recent Polish publications.

Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK) Library, London
POSK houses a research library and archive with a focus on Polish émigré publications. It also has significant collections of periodical, newspapers and manuscripts, including the Joseph Conrad collection. 

Piłsudski Institute Library, London
Housed in the same centre as POSK, the reference-only library holds significant book and journal collections focusing on Polish history since 1863. The library is run in conjunction with an archive, which includes considerable amounts of documentation on Piłsudski, Polish émigrés in Britain, the Polish-Bolshevik war, and also some materials on communist-era opposition and exile.

British Film Institute Library
The BFI Library provides access to a large collection of documentation and information on film and television including Polish films and scripts.

The National Art Library - Victoria and Albert Museum
NAL is both a major reference library and the Victoria and Albert Museum's curatorial department for the art, craft and design of the book, with a special collection of prints, drawings and paintings.